Supporting Staff. I pledge to strongly support the staff in the Office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court, as their advocate. With an emphasis on transparency, accountability and fairness, I will work to empower staff through open and honest communication, training, and family-friendly policies.
Electronic Filing. The Maryland Judiciary is undertaking an exciting new approach to case management in the State. The Maryland Electronic Courts project is revolutionizing the way that the public and legal practitioners access our court system. Attorneys—and the public—are able to file cases from home or the office and have access to all relevant legal records. New technology will help judges, prosecutors, court officials, and parties to keep better track of critical information and facilitate better and more timely decision-making for all. Alan Bowser supports electronic filing and will work hard to see that Montgomery County Courts benefit from the new approaches and new technologies as soon as they are available.
Community Engagement. Our Courts are a critically important institution in our community. With a guiding principle of “equal justice for all,” we rely on them to resolve disputes among parties before them, whether they’re rich or poor, young or old, women or men, native speaking or not. Many Montgomery County residents do not know much about our Court system and the services it provides to all our neighbors. Some communities, in fact, are hesitant to use the Courts to resolve disputes that impact their lives and those of their families and friends. Alan Bowser believes that there should be greater outreach by the Courts to all of Montgomery County’s communities, and particularly to those that have been reluctant to access our system of justice. He believes that our Court system will be strong if we reach out to these communities and educate them about the importance of the Courts and how to use them.
Juror Pay. Should the “pay” that jurors receive in Montgomery County be increased? Presently, jurors in Montgomery County received $15 a day for jury duty. This amount is below the juror pay provided in some neighboring jurisdictions. The modest amount of juror pay in Montgomery County imposes a hardship on those County residents who are self-employed, who are hourly workers, and those whose employers do not compensate their workers for jury duty. Jury duty is a civic obligation, and one that we all should embrace. But can we increase the compensation for jury duty to a more fair and reasonable level? Alan Bowser believes that we should increase juror pay in Montgomery County.
Cameras in the Courthouse. Should there be “Cameras in the Courthouse” in Montgomery County? There are differing opinions among judges, attorneys and the public regarding whether judicial proceedings in the State of Maryland should be televised for the public to view. Some argue that cameras would be a distraction to judicial proceedings, while others argue that the public has a right to know how our system of justice is being administered, and that more transparency will lead to better outcomes for all parties. Alan Bowser believes that we should reengage the conversation about “Cameras in the Courthouse,” and consider the value of televised proceedings, in some cases, like we see in other jurisdictions around the Nation.
“Greening the Court House” Some friends from the environmental community in Montgomery County offered some good suggestions when I recently visited the Earth Day Takoma Park celebration. They said that we should “green” the Court House and commit to more environmentally-friendly practices and policies in the Circuit Court. Good idea! I told them that I had already committed to building a “21st Century Court House” that would utilize the latest technologies, including electronic filing, to reduce paper and make the Court more efficient and more customer-friendly. As Clerk of the Court, I would work to increase the recycling program, explore the use of environmentally-friendly inks and other substances, encourage managers and staff to support environmental programs through the County, and consult regularly with environmental experts in the County to see how the Office of the Clerk can play its role in support of a clean, safer, greener and more sustainable Montgomery.
Diversity in the Courthouse. We strongly believe that the "Court House Team" should reflect the diversity of Montgomery County. At present, it does not. If elected, Alan Bowser would be the first person of color and the first African American to fill a leadership position in the Montgomery County Court House EVER.